What can you tell from the colour of your dog’s vomit?

Vet Joann Bennet explains more about vomit colour and what it can mean


My Family Pet and Bridge Vet Centre vet Joann Bennett explains what you can tell from the colour of your dog’s vomit, and when it might be time to contact your vet…

“Just like with humans, when your dog vomits, it’s because something is wrong. Many, many illnesses can cause vomiting and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. 

One thing that can help you tell what’s causing your dog to vomit is checking the colour of the vomit itself – disgusting as it sounds!

Firstly – are they vomiting or regurgitating?

“It’s not immediately obvious to everybody what the difference between vomiting and regurgitating is – or indeed that there’s a difference at all, but there is. They’re separate occurrences and can be signs of very different problems or conditions. 

The difference is that vomiting is where a dog fetches up partially digested food, regurgitation is where a dog fetches up undigested food; this usually occurs after they’ve eaten and without much warning. 

When a dog vomits, they’ll give you plenty of warning in the form of retching noises and contracted ribs/tummy.

So what may the different colours of vomit mean? 


This could come from lots of grass, or it could be bile. When it comes to the Dog Vomit Colour Scale, green is not usually a cause for concern unless your dog is vomiting excessively. If they’re vomiting a lot or for a long period of time, don’t hesitate to give your vet a call.


Yellow vomit is usually made up of bile – just not as much as in green vomit. Just like green vomit, yellow vomit is nothing to worry about unless it’s happening repeatedly.


Black vomit is a tricky one. It can either be from digestive mud/dirt (nothing to worry about) or the sign of an ulcer or undigested toxin (definitely something to worry about). The trick is to look at it closely – what colour is the vomit actually? If it looks a bit like coffee granules, or if it’s tinged with red (even very dark red), you should contact your vet.


It could either be vomit or foam that looks like vomit – which is the most likely outcome. White vomit may be the result of an upset stomach, which isn’t usually a cause for concern. 

Foam is more of a worry. White foam is a sign that your dog is suffering from bloat or gastrointestinal problems – they may be trying to vomit but not having any luck. If they’re vomiting up white foam, as opposed to white vomit, treat this as an emergency and contact your vet as soon as possible.


In 99% of cases where vomit is red, it’s because blood has something to do with it. 

If the vomit is a striking red, it likely contains fresh blood. This could be the result of trouble with your dog’s stomach lining, possible inflammation or a response to having ingested a poisonous substance. 

Dark red vomit means that the dog is vomiting up blood that has been in their system for a while – in other words, digested blood. If your dog vomits blood repeatedly, you should contact your vet as soon as you can.

Dark brown

The clue is in the smell! The likely cause of dark brown vomit is that your dog has eaten too much (you guessed it) poo. 

Dark brown vomit can also be a sign that your dog is suffering from a blockage of the intestines. If the vomit smells particularly foul and if it occurs repeatedly, contact your vet right away. A blocked intestine can be fatal unless treated early on. 

As a general rule, if vomit is a one-off, it’s usually nothing to worry about. If it happens repeatedly or if you’re concerned, always contact your vet as soon as you can.”

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